The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

RCMP investigating after far-right groups disrupt anti-racism rally in Alberta

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said she respects the right of peaceful assembly, but denounces racism and violence

RCMP are investigating after far-right protesters disrupted what was to be a peaceful anti-racism rally in central Alberta last weekend, but local advocacy groups say officers should have been better prepared to stop the violence.

Kisha Daniels, a co-founder of Black and Indigenous Alliance AB, said organizers were setting up the event in a park in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday when they heard honking, sirens and yelling from about 30 metres away.

She said there were threats of violence ahead of the event and, right before it started, people associated with the Yellow Vest movement, Soldiers of Odin and other far-right groups showed up.

“It was very hard for us, very traumatic for us to have to deal with these white supremacist groups without any RCMP interaction or involvement,” said Daniels, whose planned speech about education and anti-Blackness had to be called off.

A video posted by one rally-goer on Facebook shows a man in a sleeveless shirt yelling, swearing and calling them “paid pieces of garbage.”

A rally volunteer marked with red tape on his clothing is seen striding up to counter-protesters with a stack of paper. The man in the sleeveless shirt lunges at the volunteer, shoves him and tells him to get out.

The nearly 11-minute video captures further scuffles between the two sides. A police vehicle can be seen on the periphery, but no officers appear to intervene. The video ends with both groups trying to drown each other out with chants of “Black lives matter” and “all lives matter.”

Daniels said volunteers suffered injuries, including a broken tooth.

Supt. Gerald Grobmeier with the Red Deer RCMP said police were prepared for the event with 16 officers, but both groups arrived earlier than expected.

“We did have our analysts monitoring social media and we did plan for it,” he said.

“We always do … just to see what the chatter might be.”

Grobmeier said police arrived within minutes of the alleged assault, de-escalated the situation and spoke with a victim. They are asking witnesses to come forward to determine if charges are warranted.

Daniels said she has video, screenshots and photos to share with the RCMP.

But she said she has approached police in the past about threats she has received and “was told there was nothing that can be done about it.”

Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said he has urged Alberta’s commanding officer to get to the bottom of what happened.

“Police have a difficult job keeping the peace,” Madu said, calling the violence disturbing and unacceptable.

“It’s also critically important that the RCMP maintain public confidence by explaining their role in such situations.”

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said she respects the right of peaceful assembly, but unequivocally denounces racism and violence.

“It is highly concerning for our community that travelling protests have incited division and violence in our city,” she said in a statement, noting how the pandemic, economy and other factors have added to “social tensions.”

“We cannot let the actions of a few characterize our city.”

Anti-racism marches and rallies have taken place in communities large and small since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the spring. The Black man died after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking a worldwide outcry over systemic racism and police brutality.

Dieulita Datus and Sadia Khan, co-founders of the anti-discrimination not-for-profit Ubuntu — Mobilizing Central Alberta, said most rallies they have attended around central Alberta this summer have been peaceful.

They said they felt disheartened when they saw footage of the Red Deer event and bigoted comments about it posted on social media.

“My heart sank. We are losing the message and the intent that needs to be heard right now,” said Khan, who lives in Red Deer.

Datus said the RCMP should be talking to grassroots groups like Ubuntu so they can be more proactive.

“We’ve made calls repeatedly over the summer for the RCMP and other local police organizations to have the frank conversations, for them to recognize the dog whistles, for them to recognize hate groups for exactly what they are, for them to see threats for exactly what they are.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

Highly poisonous mushroom found fruiting near Filberg Park

Jimmy Carter, left, is pictured with country music legend Willie Nelson — one of many musicians featured in a documentary about the former U.S. president. The film, Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President, is the latest feature in World Community’s film series. Photo supplied
Comox Valley non-profit presents ‘Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President’

World Community’s film series continues Nov. 6-8 with a new uplifting film,… Continue reading

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

Several local schools took part in Student Vote for the B.C. election. Black Press file photo
Students in Student Vote support NDP in Comox-Courtenay

Unlike actual vote, students in Mid Island-Pacific Rim back Greens

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

From left: Rick Weaver, Anita Eldershaw-Pitman and Area A director Daniel Arbour at the Friendly Port Child Care Centre. Photo supplied
District funds enable expansion at Union Bay child care facility

A grant from the Comox Valley Regional District will help create eight… Continue reading

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Items seized over four days of targeted vehicle checks Nanaimo and Victoria by members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC photo)
Gang enforcement team seizes drugs and weapons in Nanaimo and Victoria

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. checked 33 vehicles over four days

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read